In response to President Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, 23 UEA academics signed a petition to boycott US academic conferences.
Around 3,000 academics from across the globe have signed the petition, which claims to be “in solidarity with those affected by the ‘Muslim ban’’’. In the brief, it calls into question the intellectual integrity of spaces that “explicitly exclude Muslim colleagues.” Almost two dozen UEA staff were among those who signed the petition which is available as a public Google Docs file. Dr Lorella Viola, an Associate Tutor in the PPL school, said she signed owing to a “responsibility as academics to send a clear message” of what is at stake. She said, “The recent presidential measures are a threat to democracy as much as the terrorist attacks they are meant to prevent.”
The sentiments of these signatories echo statements made by UEA’s Vice Chancellor David Richardson. Speaking at the Economic Policy Group’s Education Innovation Conference 2017, Richardson said that academics should utilise their networks to “bring soft power to bear on politicians” and that they are “also actually diplomats.”
Dr Fahir Karakas, who lectures in Business and Leadership at Norwich Business School, told Concrete: “I do not feel welcome in the post-Trump United States as a Muslim academic.” She said that she had signed the open letter despite many of the most prestigious academic conferences taking place in the US.
The ban has currently been temporarily suspended, and attempts by President Trump to reinstate the ban were rejected by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court said it would not block a ruling by the state of Seattle to suspend the policy. Responding to this, President Trump tweeted: “See you in court.”